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A Study of the Bearing of Psychological Concepts upon 
Ethical Theory. 

OINCE any scheme of ethics implies a psychology, any original 
*— ' movement in either field will affect the other. Whether or 
not a psychology recognizes a soul may make comparatively 
little difference in views of the goal of behavior, provided some 
changeless law of Karma secures that moral coherence of destiny 
which is one of the soul's functions. But theories of the will, 
of consent, and especially of the ranking of various impulses and 
desires under some ' ruling faculty, ' may mark the difference 
between the Stoic and the Epicurean; and in this case it seems 
probable that the differences in psychology were largely due to 
prior differences in moral conviction. 

At present, psychology is more independent of ethics than 
ethics is of psychology. But if psychology declines to deal 
with the will and its components, ethics will be obliged to develop 
this part of psychology for itself. Such home-grown psychol- 
ogies will lack fertility; they are not wrought in sufficient de- 
tachment from the business of their application. 1 In Royce's 
ethical thought, the psychological basis was neither taken over 
bodily from any contemporary doctrine (though the influence 
of James is marked) nor was it developed as an independent 
science; but on the other hand it was not developed in the first 
place as an element in an ethical system. When William James 
distinguished among philosophies those that 'run thick' and those 
that 'run thin,' he included the philosophy of Royce in the former 
class, because of the omnipresence there of data of experience, 
largely psychological. For Royce, and indeed for any idealistic 

1 This is one of the most serious defects of pragmatism in its bearing upon the 
arts of thinking and education. It is inclined to argue backward from the per- 
ceivable uses of ideas to the ideas themselves, forgetting the vital difference between 
utility and fertility. 



view of the world, there can be no metaphysics without psy- 
chology. 1 The ethical ideas of the Philosophy of Loyalty thus 
owe their shape in large measure to views regarding the self, its 
purposes and its objects, which first appeared in connection with 
metaphysical studies; though their sources lie far behind these 
in an uncommonly broad observation of, and interest in, human 
experience for its own sake. 

Royce's views stand in interesting relation to the ethical results 
of certain recent developments in psychology. It is the pur- 
pose of the present paper to trace this relation. Already the 
prominence of 'behavior' in recent psychology is governing the 
statement of ethical and social problems, and so, to a certain 
extent, their solution. McDougall's Social Psychology may 
illustrate this. And now from another quarter, the strikingly 
original psychological work of Sigmund Freud, who has purposely 
remained as far as possible naive toward current psychological 
traditions, is laid under contribution. In Professor E. B. Holt's 
book, The Freudian Wish? the interest in behavior and the 
analysis of Freud are brought together; and both are employed, 
first in the re-stating of ethical questions (which is all that new 
concepts, strictly speaking, can accomplish), and then in indi- 
cating certain methods of solution. 

This book is much more than an application of Freud's ideas. 
It offers a distinctly novel interpretation of the 'wish' in terms 
of behavior and environment. And it so far generalizes the 
principles of Freud's psychology, that it amounts to a gallant 
rescue of that work for ethical purposes both from the one-sided 
emphases of its friends, and from the distortions of its critics. 
It is refreshingly fair and clear sighted in recognizing what is 
significant in this region of easy and voluminous misunderstand- 
ing. The ethical application itself is essentially Holt's work. 
It is true, of course, that the psycho-analyst in his therapy must 
constantly use assumptions about where moral health as well 
as mental health lies: to this extent Holt's ideas may be said to 

1 Though (as his Outlines of Psychology may witness) it is quite possible to treat 
psychology while keeping metaphysical issues in the background. See page viii 
of the Preface of this book. 

4 New York, Henry Holt & Co., 1915. 


be ' involved ' in Freudian practice. But it is Holt, and not Freud, 
who has said what these ideas are, and what they mean in terms 
of other ethical theories. We may thus fairly regard this as a 
pioneer treatise, one with a weighty thesis, and further, one 
whose vigor, compactness, and clarity throw into welcome relief 
the issues about which discussion will naturally center. 


One looks first for the basis of the distinction between good and 
bad. The psycho-analyst begins with a condition judged 
hygienically bad, namely the mental disorder. If this disorder is 
caused by a repression of wishes, then repression must be judged 
to be extrinsically bad. Professor Holt translates this clinical 
judgment into an ethical judgment: repression is morally bad. 
This condemnation of repression is the characteristic common 
element in the two value-systems. But why is repression 
morally bad? This judgment, I take it, does not depend, through 
a utilitarian first premiss, upon the fact that repression may cause 
mental disorder. It seems to depend rather upon the judgment 
that the condition of repression is one already out of normal 
relation to the facts of the world. The implied first premiss is 
that there is a natural relation to these facts, and that this 
natural relation is "somehow right" (p. 151). 

This natural relation is one of a personal knowledge of facts, 
and an adjustment to them through this knowledge rather than 
through authority. The facts will 'drive us on to morals' if we 
expose our minds to them: this is the ethics of the dust, the 
ethics from below upward. On the other hand, if we take our 
relation to the facts through social authorities, with those pro- 
hibitions and tabus which prevent acquaintance and personal 
knowledge, we deprive ourselves of the natural reasons for moral 
behavior, and our good conduct, such as it is, is a result of re- 
pression, not of wisdom. This is the ethics 'from above' (p. 
132), sanctioned by the prestige of the censor, and hence not 
sanctioned by the inner working of one's own experience and 
discrimination. "Thus (through their official bans) it comes 
to pass that church and state often play in the adult's experience 


the rdle of shortsighted and injudicious parents. ... It is truth 
and the ever-progressive discrimination of truth which alone 
conduce to moral conduct" (p. 130). 

But if we define our ethically right attitude simply as one which 
is derived from a knowledge of facts and their consequences, 
our theory does not differ essentially from that, for example, of 
Herbert Spencer (especially in his treatise on Education). 
Spencer has the same high scorn of those heteronomous systems 
which display, perhaps not so much distrust of the experiential 
sanctions for conduct, as an incompetence in recognizing them, 
an imperfect development of causal reasoning. But Spencer 
would have us hold to authority in some form or other until 
such time as the causal consciousness is so vivid in all of us that 
we can surely perceive the relations between our ideals and our 
experiences. How far Holt would accept this reservation; how 
far, on the contrary, he would advise the bolder attempt which 
Arthur Balfour pictures, 1 is not wholly clear. He has a place 
for authorities that tell the truth, and are known to tell the 
truth (p. 114). It is rather the lying authority, which while 
exhorting us to suppress our wishes is at the same time busied 
in suppressing the facts (p. 133), that is to be condemned. The 
impression received from my reading is that Holt judges most 
human authorities to be of the latter kind, the more particularly 
when they allege a divine sanction (p. 130). In this respect, 
Holt's views are similar to those of many other modern writers. 
The distinctive character of his doctrine must be found in 
another aspect of what I have called the 'natural relation to 
facts.' For there are really two sets of facts which the moral 
life has to consider, the facts of the world in which our wishes 
are to be worked out, and the facts of those wishes themselves, 
defined as specific responses (or dispositions to respond) of our 
own organisms (p. 56). Our wishes also are objectively given. 
And it is the business of right conduct not alone to know the 
facts of the environment, but so to know them that we can 
satisfy our wishes. To refrain from eating mushrooms because 
some mushrooms are poisonous is not ideal conduct; our task is 

1 Foundations of Belief, pp. 204-208. 


to know which are edible, and (if we wish) to eat them. " Right 
is that conduct, attained through discrimination of the facts, 
which fulfils all of a man's wishes at once, suppressing none." 
(p. 131). 

There are thus two conditions which conduct must satisfy 
in order to be moral. It must be autonomous, and it must 
fulfil my wishes. It must be free in the sense of containing 
within my own knowledge all the reasons for my conduct; and 
it must be free in the further sense of liberating that in me which 
craves an outlet. The condition of the repressed individual is 
unfree; his will is divided against itself; while he does one thing, 
there is a secretly rebellious fraction of himself which longs for 
something else, the forbidden fruit. He cherishes the delusion 
that some actions are 'delightful, yet sinful'; and so far, while 
rejecting them, he remains privately attached to them, hence 
in bondage, rebellious, and unmoral. 

The way of moral improvement is in general such as to satisfy 
both these conditions at once; for it is by a process of 'dis- 
crimination' that one finds it possible to satisfy the repressed 
wish. For -example, I have a wish for social amusement and 
relaxation. The world of facts provides me with companions 
and places of amusement. But the censor has declared that the 
available amusements, theaters perhaps, are bad; and I am in 
the position of one who faces a field of poisonous mushrooms: 
my wishes must be repressed. What is needed is a discrimina- 
tion ; if I trust my own eyes, there is ' the easily perceivable fact 
that the theater is partly good and partly bad'; and with this 
bit of wisdom comes the release of my rightful desires. 

This use of the word bad as applied to theaters, etc., invites 
some attention; for there is no doubt that the bad theater has 
the power of satisfying just those wishes that were repressed. 
And one who freely indulges in bad theaters is not guilty of that 
fear of experience which marks the dominance of the censor. 
If we condemn this indulgence it would seem at first sight to be 
on some as yet unacknowledged ground. Holt himself makes an 
apparently extra-scientific appeal to 'conscience' (p. 120), or 
to "a sound prejudice against unbridled frivolity, and a normal 


shrinking from . . . moral contamination" (p. 119). But the 
difficulty is only apparent. When we call the theater bad it is 
only because in satisfying wish A it in some way thwarts and 
represses wish B. And our moral problem is, not simply to find 
objects which satisfy our wishes severally; but to find among a 
class of objects X which satisfy a given wish A, that variety X' 
which thwarts no other of the entire magazine of wishes. The 
postulate which this type of ethical theory seems bound to make 
is that such objects as X' exist. The edible mushrooms and the 
good theaters exist, and I can reach them. 


If I point out the generous optimism of this postulate, it is 
not for the sake of disputing its general validity, nor that of the 
corresponding dictum, that if repressions occur in this world of 
ours, it is through lack of knowledge (p. 128). It is for the sake 
of enquiring whether all repressions are alike evil; whether some 
may not be both inevitable and desirable. 

Is Professor Holt, perhaps, treading dangerously near that 
view from which Thorndike has recently so solemnly warned us, 
— the view that original human nature, as a bundle of wishes, is 
always right? This view, says Thorndike, "by being attractive 
to sentimentalists, absolutist philosophers, and believers in a 
distorted and fallacious form of the doctrine of evolution, has 
been of great influence on educational theories." 1 He then 
points out the presence in us of wishes to lie, to steal, to fight, 
to torture, to run away, some of which we are bound not merely 
to repress but to throttle, because they are appropriate only 
to an archaic environment. We have to 'unlearn a large 
portion of our natural birthright.' One may reasonably chal- 
lenge these categories, denying that there is any such wish in 
human nature as a wish to lie, or to steal, etc. One may insist 
that whatever impulses we have must be given non-invidious 
names; the alleged wish to lie may in fact be a wish to dramatize 
or invent, etc. But one has still to consider the broad necessity 
of discipline, perhaps even of excision, in the making of the moral 

1 Original Nature of Man, p. 270. 


person, if only because of the 'side-stepping of civilization,' or 
the reversal of selective methods which Huxley has pointed out. 

If we are to require in our morality satisfaction of the entire 
man — and this seems to me a just requirement — we must invoke, 
I believe, another principle, — that of vicarious satisfaction 
among our wishes. This implies (1) that our various 'wishes' 
are not distinct entities (as the A and B of our illustration), but 
are related as species of a few more general wishes, perhaps ul- 
timately of one most general wish ; and (2) that the satisfaction 
of the more general wish is a satisfaction of the more particular 
wish. Instances of the operation of this principle are not far 
to seek. The love of fighting or of opposition is one which may 
be satisfied in many ways from the combat by fists to the rivalry 
of commercial undertakings or of political parties; William James 
has familiarized us with the notion of a 'moral equivalent' of 
the cruder pugnacity. Indeed, society may be said to be largely 
engaged in the work of discovering moral equivalents for our 
primitive wishes; and what we call a custom or an institution 
seems to be fairly describable as a social finding of this sort. 

It is because our wishes exist as generals, and not as specific 
particulars alone, that the process called by Freud "sublimation " 
is possible. This process, which seems to me to be the most 
important conception for ethical purposes that Freud has out- 
lined (though he has rather assumed it than developed its theory), 
has its must obvious illustration perhaps in the aesthetic equiva- 
lent, or social equivalent, of sexual wishes; the general wish 
under which these specific varieties occur may be variously 
described as the wish to create, or the wish for union, etc. In 
this form it has variously appealed to social observers, as to 
Miss Jane Addams, to Walter Lippman and others. But its 
prevalence and fundamental character have hardly been recog- 
nized. It needs to be related to the process of the transformation 
of instincts which McDougall has touched upon and which all 
forms of education make use of. And it needs to be understood 
in terms of a tendency of the life of our wishes to reach suc- 
cessively more general interpretations, and to become subsumed 
ultimately under one comprehensive wish, — the 'will.' With 


the principle of vicarious satisfaction thus denned, it is conceiv- 
able that comparatively few of the enumerable wishes of a man 
should be satisfied, and yet the man be satisfied. The inevitable 
lopping-off that comes with every large decision, the successive 
specializations into which we are driven, the relinquishments 
necessary if only through lack of time, the hungers left by poverty, 
by social pressure, by the hundred comparative failures to one 
thorough success in competitive pursuits, and finally that uni- 
versal human longing due to the actual absence from the world 
of those objects upon which many wishes might run out (the 
music not yet written, the justice not yet achieved, not to speak 
of the lacking edible crows or wholly good wars, even if there be 
edible mushrooms and wholly good theaters), — all of this need 
no more make man unhappy than make him immoral, if our 
psychology can show us that the 'soul,' or the 'will,' or the total 
wish of man, is so far a genuine entity that a checked wish need 
not persist as a repressed and rebellious moment of subconscious 
demand, but find its way upward into a purpose that is satisfied. 

If this could be shown, and I believe that it is precisely in this 
direction that the development of the Freudian school is tending, 1 
we should be inclined to transfer Holt's moral law of discrimin- 
ative self-expression to the one wish or purpose, and let the 
particular wishes take the consequences. The difference between 
the two methods might be symbolized in some such fashion as 

Assume as before that we have wish A which can be satisfied 
by X, but at the cost of repressing wish B ; and we have wish B 
which can be satisfied by Y (or by not-X), but at the cost of 
repressing A. According to the method of discrimination we 
are to find an object X' which will satisfy A without repressing 
B, and presumably also an object Y' which will satisfy B without 
repressing A. According to the method of vicarious satis- 
faction we have to recognize the more general wish, M, of which 
A and B are special forms, and then to find the object, Z, which 
will satisfy M. 

Under this latter method, A and B would not be satisfied in 

1 See below. 


their own persons. Neither would they be repressed in the 
sense of being pressed back into a continued life of protest. It 
might be fair to say that, as at first defined, they would be sup- 
pressed, as a necessary first stage of being sublimated. 1 All growth 
must involve some such suppression of imperfectly defined wishes, 
until we discover what, as a major purpose of our existence, we 
really want. Repression must be judged bad; not however 
because of the local rights of the minor wish, but rather because 
it implies a laxity of the main current of the will, a Lot's-wife 
sort of irresolution, such as a brisker seizure in thought of one's 
chosen object might dissipate. 

I am not posing as a protagonist of self -mutilation or asceticism, 
though I believe with William James that every man needs his 
own quota. I thoroughly believe in the principle of the inte- 

I I have been using throughout the word repression for Freud's Verdrangung. 
I have had this distinction in mind in doing so. For Freud, Verdrangung is not 
the general condition of a wish which is denied outlet, but rather the condition of 
the wish which while outwardly checked is inwardly harbored. He recognizes the 
normality of what I have called suppression as a part of growth. Thus, in his 
Clark lectures, he speaks as follows: "The general consequence (of psychoanalytic 
treatment) is, that the wish is consumed during the work by the correct mental 
activity of those better tendencies which are opposed to it. The repression is 
supplanted by a condemnation, carried through with the best means at one's 
disposal. . . . (At the origin of the trouble) the individual for his part only re- 
pressed the useless impulse, because at that time he was himself incompletely 
organized and weak; in his present maturity and strength he can perhaps conquer 
without injury to himself that which is inimical to him." So far, Freud pictures 
the rather drastic procedure in which wish B actually puts wish A out of existence 
entirely, suppressing it, instead of repressing it; and without substitution. But, 
he continues, " the extirpation of the infantile wishes is pot at all the ideal aim of 
development. The neurotic has lost by his repressions many sources of mental 
energy whose contingents would have been very valuable for his character-building 
and life activities. We know a far more purposive process of development, the so- 
called sublimation, by which the energy of infantile wish-excitations is not secluded, 
but remains capable of application, while for the particular excitations, instead of 
becoming useless, a higher, eventually no longer sexual goal, is set up." It is 
this departure from the 'sexual goal' which evidences that Freud does not con- 
template the satisfaction of wish A in its nominal character. To be sublimated, it 
must, in this character, be suppressed. Freud goes on, however, to indicate that 
he does not regard sublimation as an ideal solution of the problem of wishes. It is 
far more desirable, he suggests in a figure, that from the point of view of mental 
energy A and B should be satisfied in their particular characters. So far, he sub- 
scribes to Professor Holt's method, but he does not identify it with morality. 
(American Journal of Psychology, Vol. XXI, 1910, p. 217). 


gration of wishes, as Holt has stated it, as a necessary element 
in our moral ideal. But when it becomes the leading element, 
so that what I have called local rights are the first things to be 
considered, it seems both to misrepresent and to complicate the 
moral situation. The ideal of rounded development and ac- 
tivity is unquestionably the law of that Nature worshipped both 
by Greekdom and by our contemporary physicalism. But the 
necessity for sacrificial choice is not provided for; and it cannot 
be eliminated. Nor can we evade the fact that it is precisely 
such choice that for most men must always constitute the con- 
scious ethical crux. It is of little value to say to the soldier 
called upon by his country "So discriminate as both to satisfy 
your patriotic wish and your wishes for family life, social amenity 
and physical comfort." The synthesis is indeed better than the 
opposition, and wise and happy is he who can find it. But until 
what we call adaptation is complete, the moral law must deal 
with disjunctive judgments. 


There is one phase of Holt's psychology to which this view of 
the ethical problem seems more akin than the Freudian view. 
I refer to his theory of the subconscious. It is characteristic of 
Holt's view of mind to seek what is usually called 'inner' in a 
man's dealings with his environment. He prefers not to trust the 
'inside information' of introspection. Almost we might say 
that for Holt, the man is his purpose; 1 and his purpose is to be 
discerned in the remote and inclusive objects of his action, rather 
than in any 'thoughts' which he might be able to serve up, on 
demand, as an account of himself. There is something like a 
reciprocal relation between the supposed 'inwardness' of a 
thought or motive and the remoteness of the object with which 
it is concerned : the more inward the thought, the more outward 
the object. The thoughts that we call subconscious, or 'secret' 
are those which are not on the surface of our minds because they 
are relating us to our distant rather than to our immediate con- 
cerns: while I appear to others and to myself to be purchasing 

1 See Holt, p. 28. 


a railway ticket, I may be subconsciously building the house to 
which this momentary act is accidentally related through a 
thousand links. To recognize in the subconscious thoughts and 
wishes those which reach (or try to reach) farthest outward, seems 
to me not only illuminating but ventilating to this conception 
so commonly shrouded in mystery. 

It is subconsciousness in this sense, a subconscious wisdom, in 
fact, which relates a man to his widest horizon and constitutes 
his ethical and religious nature. " In moral conduct the stimulus 
has receded the farthest, and such conduct is behavior toward 
the more universal entities, toward truth, honer, virtue, and the 
like" (p. 146). 

This view of the subconscious, however, and of the ethical 
principle, seems to me hardly consistent, not to say identical, 
either with Freud's view and practice, or with the previously 
noted principles of Holt. If a repressed wish or a traumatic 
memory is subconscious, in Freud's usage, it is not such as refers 
to objective facts lying beyond the usual conscious border; nor 
is it such as can be directly discerned in any actual behavior. 
Let us call to mind Freud's methods. He does not, indeed, 
rely upon direct introspection for revealing the subconscious 
wishes. He states his problem thus: "To find out something 
from the patient that the doctor did not know and the patient 
himself did not know." He learns to distrust hypnosis partly 
because not all patients can be hypnotized, and partly because 
its results are unreliable. He comes to the conclusion that all 
memories accessible to hypnotic states are accessible also to 
normal states; if certain memories fail to emerge it is because 
of a resistance, due to the hypothetical process of Verdrangung 
or repression. Hence his methods are aimed at removing the 
resistance and aiding the patient to recognize and confess his 
own wishes. To accomplish this he does, in fact, examine 
such behavior, and also such experiences, as may offer a clue to 
the lost motive: he analyzes dreams, slips of the tongue, types of 
imagination and association, the various subtle ways in which we 
all 'betray ourselves.' "In this way," he says, "I succeeded, 
without hypnosis, in learning from the patient all that was 


necessary for a construction of the connection," etc. What I 
wish to point out is that Freud depends on learning the patho- 
genic state of wish or memory "from the patient" ; his most satis- 
factory evidence of the Tightness of his 'psycho-analysis' is 
that the patient recognizes its Tightness, by introspection. Often- 
times this recognition amounts to a new item of self-consciousness 
on the patient's part, the naming of an unavowed or half-concealed 
motive. Sometimes it is like recovering the thread of a forgotten 
experience. Often it bears the character of a confession, and as 
Freud has somewhere remarked, has some of the values and 
dangers of the confessional. But always it is an appeal to more 
searching introspection. No doubt the states of consciousness 
thus revealed are represented in nervous structure by subtle 
interplay of motor settings; 1 but the point is, that Freud neither 
seeks nor finds them there. Freud uses behavior as an aid to 
introspection. And what he finds is a radically different region 
of subconsciousness from that which Holt describes in the 
passages referred to. 

The most obvious difference is that the subconscious wish 
recovered by psycho-analysis is supposed to be driven into 
subconsciousness by the censor, whereas the subconscious de- 
scribed by Holt is as likely as not to be the censor itself or an 
element thereof. The former aspect of subconsciousness is 
artificial, a consequence of repression; the latter is natural, 
entirely free, constantly cooperating with conscious thought 
instead of antagonizing or being antagonized by it, actively 
relating our conscious deeds to their widest horizons. 2 This 
latter aspect of subconsciousness may fairly be identified in a 
special way with the man himself: — As a man thinketh in his 

1 Holt, pp. 93, 94- 

2 1 have elsewhere described in some detail the difference in function and origin 
of these aspects of subconsciousness, referring to them as the coSperative and the 
critical subconsciousness, respectively. The Meaning of God in Human Experience, 
Appendix I, pp. 527-538. The point of this distinction is well expressed in a 
quatrain of John B. Tabb: 

' Tis not what I am fain to hide 

That doth in deepest darkness dwell, 

But what my tongue hath often tried, 

Alas, in vain, to tell. 


heart, so is he. Or in Holt's terms, — As a man's ultimate horizon 
of response is, so is he. But one could hardly without cynicism 
sweepingly identify the subconsciousness of repression with the 
man or with any essential part of him. Yet this is precisely 
what the Freudian analysis inclines to do; and it is here that 
Holt's psychology might act as a salutary corrective, if it were 
consistently applied. Let me develop this suggestion briefly. 


The first appeal of the Freudian clinic, and of the Holtian 
ethic, is to a greater candor, and a new self-scrutiny. It demands 
of us confidence in a severer but friendlier truth, as a condition of 
moral growth. If it confronts us with something like a universal 
threat to the effect that "There is nothing hidden that shall 
not be made known" — since in spite of ourselves our expressions 
are a perpetual self-betrayal (Holt, p. 36ff) — it does much to 
make endurable the admission of the supposedly inadmissible; 
for it shows our individual fault as a common human failing, 
holding out the greeting of a general companionship in confession. 
The goal of such added self-knowledge and self-avowal can be 
nothing but truth and health, and it must be prized accordingly. 
Psycho-analysis, with vastly different weapons than those of 
Carlyle, may be still more pervasively effective than he in making 
us aware of the amount of sham in our lives. Dr. James J. 
Putnam speaks wholly in the spirit of the new self-knowledge 
when he refers 1 to the "hidden motives and self-deceptions which 
to a greater or less degree falsify the lives of every man and every 
group of men," or suggests "the discovery that some apparently 
harmless act, classifiable in ordinary parlance as a wholly justi- 
fiable form of tender emotion, is in reality a sign that (his) 
thoughts are tending in objectionable directions." In so far as 
subtle hypocrisies and double-motives are real ingredients of 
character, nothing can be more welcome than a usable method for 
detecting them. 

It does not follow, however, that every thought or motive 
which is under suppression is such a real ingredient of character, 

1 Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Vol. IX, April-May, 1914, pp. 37, 44. 


as a great deal of the Freudian literature suggests. As a token 
of the error we may point out a characteristic touch in the 
Freudian interpretation of wit, or dream, or art, or even of moral 
effort, which it would be too strong to describe as cynical or 
blighting, and yet which distinctly verges in this direction, and 
from which Holt's own treatment is not wholly free (as p. 144), 
though he has done much to save a good clinical hypothesis from 
developing into a prevalent clinical suspicion. It should be 
clear that solely on Freudian principles 1 there is a radical differ- 
ence between the repression which has preceded the self-analysis 
and avowal, and the moral effort of suppression or sublimation 
which must follow it if the discovered trait is to be corrected. 
Any moral effort whatever, no matter how free from self-decep- 
tion, necessarily implies the continued presence in us of impulses 
which we must resist; it implies that there must be a censor with 
actual work to do. To this extent there will be double-minded- 
ness; but there is all the difference in the world between a double- 
mindedness which is growing toward unity, and a double-minded- 
ness which is being cherished and smuggled along by some one 
of those many devices of compromise which Holt so justly con- 
demns. I believe that most of the actual work of the censor in 
our consciousness is of the former sort (or of a mixed sort, with 
a good deal of the former ingredient in it); and that a call to 
unrestricted self-revelation would tend to undo in many minds 
the first stages of moral achievement. I believe this the more 
because in many cases, and perhaps in most common cases, the 
most effective method of moral improvement is not the Freudian 
method of scientific self-analysis. Something is to be said for a 
very different method, which without accepting Bergson's oppo- 
sition between analysis and intuition, might well be described 
in terms of their contrast. Just as a certain element in the cure 
of diseased viscera is, at the proper stage of things, to forget that 
you have any viscera; so a certain element, and naturally a much 
larger element, in the cure of any moral disease is to forget that 
your feelings have an anatomy, and attend to wholeness of will 

1 Though I confess that Janet's account of dealing with a motive we wish to 
overcome seems to me more in accord with ordinary experience. Journal of 
Abnormal Psychology, vol. IX, No. I, pp. 28-9. 


and action. It is because this method is so ancient, so well 
understood, and so spontaneously used, that many an honest 
person confronted with an equally honest Freudian analysis of 
his subconscious self, would be likely to draw from it quite per- 
verse conclusions about the state of his soul. I do not undertake 
to state where the border of efficiency between the two methods 
is to be drawn. It is our destiny to become completely self- 
knowing; and I do not think that any one can have too much self- 
knowledge or self-analysis, so long as it is true self-knowledge, 
proportionate. But so long as the method of health by intuition 
of health (if I may so describe it) has any important role to play, 
it is a serious defect of any general scheme of moral hygiene not 
to take account of it. And the defect becomes doubly serious 
when, as appears to me the tendency of the Holt-Freudian 
scheme, the natural and unconscious use of this intuitive method 
— externally so similar to repression and censorship in the 
hypocritical sense — is confused with them. It is not true, I 
repeat, that every thought and motive which is under ban and 
can be revealed by psycho-analysis is a real ingredient of char- 
acter. And with due respect to Holt's definitions, this method 
of interpretation is, in its actual working, too subjective. 

But this error, I believe, is rather Freud's than Holt's; for in 
Holt's own principles the antidote is clearly enough stated. 
"The inscrutable 'thought behind' the actions of a man, which 
is the invisible secret of those actions, is another myth" (p. 85). 
Take this general principle of behaviorism together with the 
principle that the characteristic purposes of a man are those 
which reach the widest horizon; these purposes are himself, 
provided that they are actively engaged in integrating the rest of 
his purposes into their own system. Take it with the comment 
that the hidden thought is a myth not because it is non-existent; 
but because only those thoughts have significance for character 
which achieve expression. We shall then have, I believe, a 
much sounder principle of judgment. We shall be judging a 
man by that which he is ultimately moving toward, rather than 
by what, as vestige of infantile wish-definitions, still adheres to 
him from a past which of his own growth he is shuffling off. 



It remains true that the objects toward which a man is ulti- 
mately moving cannot be discovered by external observation. 
For in the case of just these objects, which most define the man, 
the 'recession of the stimulus' has proceeded to infinity; and 
further, the 'stimulus' — these objects themselves — has become 
intangible in nature. Hence we cannot identify a man's major 
purposes in the manner suggested by Holt, that of exhibiting the 
objects (though we might attempt a metaphysical definition of 
them) ; nor can we discover them by Freud's method of uncover- 
ing repressed wishes. The best instrument which has so far 
been devised for discovering what these major wishes are is, I 
believe, an ancient one, — the Platonic logic of the affections. It 
is the peculiar merit of the Socratic dialectic, as shaped by 
Plato, that it reveals precisely that part of the subconscious self 
(if we wish to describe in these terms that unanalyzed part of 
the self which Socrates, as midwife, undertook to deliver) which 
as censor of the individual is also the common sense, and so the 
common censor, of mankind. 1 

The working part of the dialectic of Plato might be roughly 
described as a comparison of an experimental definition of a 
term (in connotation) with accepted cases of its denotation. 
If courage be defined as daring; and it is admitted that one who 

1 One of the most vigorous and inspiriting aspects of Holt's book is its recognition 
of points of contact with Platonic psychology and ethics. The main point of this 
agreement is in the doctrine that only the good man is free, and only the wise 
can be good. Holt's method of reaching this goal of freedom, by discrimination 
and synthesis, differs from the dialectic of Plato, as I shall try to make clear, 
precisely in that part of the subconscious which it is destined to set free. It is 
needless to point out that the freedom which Plato had in mind was quite consistent 
with a somewhat ascetic, or repressive, attitude toward the body. The Sym- 
posium presents us with perhaps the first instance of a conscious philosophy of 
sublimation, by finding in universal terms an equivalent for the specific forms of 
wish. If Plato appears in any modern dress, it must be as a democratized Plato, 
so far as the rank of our various affections is concerned. This modern contribution 
to Plato's thought, the release of the human spirit from distrust of its 'lower 
nature,' is perfectly carried out in Holt's theory. But the question remaining 
unanswered is, How shall we distinguish among our wishes those which identify 
ourselves, and so have especial right to be regarded as major or ruling wishes? 
What is it which, on the whole, we want to do? In answering this question Plato's 
method, or a modified form of it, is still, I hold, our best recourse. 


dares in an ignorant and foolhardy manner is not to be called 
courageous, we must change the definition of courage so as to 
include the element of knowledge. The judgment that the 
foolhardy person is not to be called courageous can be taken as 
more certain than the definition, only because one's power of 
applying a concept in recognizing or excluding is more certain 
than one's power to express it in terms of predicates. It must 
be assumed that one knows what courage is, for the purposes of 
these recognitions, in order that the dialectical apparatus shall 
have a fixed ground to operate from. Yes, one must know what 
courage is, that is, one must actually know the connotation, in 
order to effect these judgments of denotation. But this knowl- 
edge of the essence as an inaccessible knowledge may be called 
relatively subconscious ; one can reach it for purposes of expression 
only by a succession of these dialectical efforts or experiments. 

Now this process, which is applied by Plato chiefly to the task 
of learning what we think, is also quite spontaneously applied 
by all of us to the task of learning what we want. For all asser- 
tions of the form ' I wish X ' may be regarded as essays at def- 
inition, namely the definition of a wish in terms of its objects. 
And all such definitions, which children and others are inclined 
to put forth with a high sense of dogmatic certainty, are seen in 
the course of experience to be, in truth, highly hypothetical. 
They are, in effect, hypothetical interpretations of a wish, which 
in its completeness remains unknown in quite the same way as 
the nature of justice or courage is unknown. And the general 
effect of experience is to lead to revisions of the assumed def- 
inition. Not all learning by experience, however, is dialectical 
in character; indeed the most conspicuous examples are not so, 
and partly perhaps for this reason this analogy, so far as I know, 
has not been pointed out in current discussions of the learning 

For in the common processes of motor learning, in which 
pleasures and pains, or the 'original satisfiers and annoyers' of 
which Professor Thorndike speaks, furnish the definitive ' yeses ' 
and ' noes ' for our active experiments, the revisions that take place 
affect not so much our understanding of our wishes as our under- 


standing of our objects. If yielding to curiosity brings the finger 
into the flame, or yielding to the pecking impulse leads a chicken 
to take up an undesirable lady-bug, definite sensible 'annoyers' 
are encountered whose relation to the original impulse is simply 
an empirical fact. The result of such an experience is likely to 
be simply caution in getting the rose without the thorn, or a 
discrimination as of the edible from the non-edible insects, 
without any reflection upon the nature of the impulse itself. 
It is not, for instance, that the chicken's hunger was mis- 
directed ; but that what it took to be the same object as one which 
had previously satisfied it was not in fact the same; the genus 
was too widely drawn. Nature might have made all flame as 
innocent as incense, and all lady-bugs as sweet as corn, so far as 
our insight yet goes; the attributes of these things have to be 
learned as one learns the alphabet, without inner illumination. 

There is a shade more reflection involved in another type of 
dissatisfaction. There are some experiments which at the mo- 
ment seem to turn out well, but which bring painful results at 
greater or lesser distance from the satisfaction. The pains which 
follow over-indulgence may, if one has sufficient mentality to 
'integrate' them with his experience, lead to the judgment, 
"This, after all, is not what I want." But here again nature 
might have made us so that some high orgy could be pursued 
without resulting depression; or, if not, the question might still 
be raised, and is raised, whether the orgy, or some orgy like it, 
might not be worth the cost. So long as the satisfaction itself 
shines out with unclouded light, and the connected pains are 
externally related to it, the entire effort of revision is directed 
to the circumstances and not to the wish. 

But there is a third type of experience, and here it is that we 
encounter the dialectic change, in which an achievement is 
followed by an ill-defined sense that one is not, after all, satis- 
fied with that apparent satisfaction. The memory of that terminal 
joy itself is mixed with unpleasantness. There is what I should 
call a mental negative after-image of the experience. It is hardly 
necessary to illustrate; but a common example may be taken from 
almost any experience of impulsive pugnacity. I have a diso- 


bedient child; and upon an accumulation of petty failures to 
obey I act upon the injunction of a contemporary sage, 'Never 
punish a child except in anger.' With the aid of this emphasis 
I secure compliance, and am satisfied. But quite possibly after 
some time my sense of triumph may fade. I defined my wish 
in terms of compliance, and I gained it; but what I gained was 
not what I wanted, — the error was in my understanding of my 
own wish. I may be puzzled to know in what respect I have 
failed ; for what is now required is a new effort at analysis, a new 
hypothesis, an essentially inductive achievement in naming what 
was wrong and so revising my definition. I may emerge with 
the supposition that what will satisfy me is a free compliance, or 
one based on confidence rather than on necessity. But whatever 
the outcome, the process is a dialectic process. It might be 
called the dialectic of the will. 

Like the Platonic dialectic of concepts, it assumes that the 
judgment of denotation is more certain than the judgment of analysis 
of connotation. The judgment of denotation here takes the form : 
This experience is, or is not, a case of what I wish. And as in 
the Platonic dialectic, the certainty, in turn, of this judgment of 
denotation depends upon the presence of a 'subconscious' 
knowledge of what, in connotation, I want. 

The distinction between this process and the first-named 
process of learning from experience of pleasure and pain may 
appear in this, that this 'mental after-image' is more potent than 
pleasures or pains to determine the history of a wish. Thus, a 
fight may be attended with much pain and subsequent discom- 
fort; but if the after-image is gratifying, the pain seems to have a 
wholly negligible effect in deterring the enthusiastic fighter. 
The agony of childbirth does not deter the normal mother from 
again entering the same cycle of experience. And on the other 
hand a slight shade of dissatisfaction in the after-image may 
nullify the effect of the keenest pleasure in inducing a repetition 
of the successful behavior. If pain is, in Sherrington's sense, 
'prepotent' as a stimulus; the mental after-image is 'prepotent' 
(or has become so in the human species) infixing the definitions of 
wishes, and so in determining habits. 


Thus we are 'driven on' by experience, if not to morality, at 
least to a more adequate knowledge of what we want, by a dia- 
lectic process whose motive power comes from the free, cooper- 
ative subconsciousness, not from the repressed subconsciousness. 


By aid of this conception of an experiential dialectic of the 
will, we may now be able so far to bridge the initial difference 
in terminology between the ethics of Royce and the Holt- 
Freudian ethics as to show what their relations are. Let me 
attempt to resume these relations in a series of propositions. 

(a) For Royce the moral problem of the individual might be stated 
as a problem of finding what on the whole one wants to do, — and 
then doing it; the process of this discovery is analogous rather to the 
dialectic of the will than to the method of discrimination. 

For Royce, as for Holt, the 'soul' or self is to be defined in 
terms of purpose. It makes little difference in this connection 
whether we call the psychological materials desires, instincts, or 
wishes. 1 In either case, it is not by the possession of any soul- 
substance that I am defined a self; but it is "by this meaning 
of my life-plan, by this possession of an ideal." 2 And Royce's 
conception of the moral problem is so far opposed to any kind of 
heteronomy that the whole duty of any man is to be found in the 
fulfilling of his unique purpose. 

1 Compare Royce's definition of a desire {Outlines of Psychology, p. 366) with 
Holt's definition of wish (p. 56). For Royce, "A desire means a tendency to action, 
experienced as such, and at the same time felt as a relatively satisfactory tendency." 
Of the wish, Holt says that it is "a course of action which the living body executes 
or is prepared to execute with regard to some object or some fact of its environ- 
ment." Both definitions raise the question what kind of existence a desire or 
wish may have when the course of action referred to is not carried out, — which is 
of course their characteristic mode of existence. If we may assume that " tendency 
to action" in the one case, and "prepared to execute" in the other, mean the 
same condition of incipient activity and physiological setting, the differences 
between the concepts seem to be simply (1) that Royce expressly recognizes the 
element of consciousness, and (2) that Holt expressly recognizes the environing 
objects with which the action, if it became actual, would deal. The definitions are 
certainly not inconsistent. 

2 The World and the Individual, Vol. II, p. 276. For Holt, however, the soul 
is a unity only when integration is accomplished: he frequently uses the plural of 
purpose or wish as equivalent to soul. See pp. 49, 200 f., cf. pp. 95, 118. 


As to the process of accomplishing this, the original difficulty is 
that one does not know what one's purpose is, at least in terms 
of the objects with which he must deal. It is characteristic of 
the purpose that it is forever in search of its own completed 
meaning. Its life is a movement from self-ignorance to self- 
knowledge. This knowledge comes in dealing with the world of 
objects, for they are the completions of the meaning of the pur- 
poses, their 'external meanings,' more organically parts of the 
purposes themselves than are the objects of Holt's wishes parts 
of the wish. 1 It is through contact with objects that I learn 
to recognize in them (or as Plato would say, to recollect) my own 

Royce does not describe the process through which a purpose 
finds its meaning as a dialectic process; and there are sufficient 
reasons for resorting to new terms. Since Hegel's time this 
word has borne a connotation which was foreign to Plato, that of 
determining in advance the course which experience must follow; 
and in the rejection of this prescriptive tyranny, the descriptive 
value of the concept, together with its experiential character, 
have been largely overlooked. The notion of an a priori deduc- 
tion of the course of experience is as foreign to Royce as to Plato ; 
the quest is experimental, and it is essentially the same quest. 
So far as it has a typical history, Royce describes it about as 
follows: Our life at any moment shows two regions or strata: 
there is a region in which, having found out what we want and 
have to do, we have adopted habits toward various objects, — 
these are our known and recurrent wishes; and there is a region 
of groping, of working by trial and error, in pursuit of the residual 
meaning yet ungrasped, "interpolating new terms in a series of 
stages that lie between the original condition of the organism and 
a certain ideal goal, which the individual organism never 
reaches." 2 
The findings of this experimental quest, Royce first refers to as 

1 The fact that, according to the type of idealism which Royce holds, the world 
of objects only exists for me as a world of the external meanings of my ideas does 
not, of course, imply that the objects with which any given wish has to reckon 
exist only as external meanings of that particular wish. 

2 The World and the Individual, Vol. II, p. 317. 


'tasks' and 'deeds' and 'offices' such as mark off my contrast 
with my fellows. Later he is inclined to refer to them as 'causes' 
such as at once set me off and unite me in common undertakings 
with others. To discover one's cause and be loyal to it; this is 
the essentially ethical problem. And the recognition of the 
cause which identifies one as a person is so far a critical event 
in the history of the will that it puts a check upon the freedom of 
experimentation. "The choice of a special personal cause is a 
sort of ethical marriage to this cause." 1 Yet all such choices are 
made in a degree of ignorance; they are fallible, and when it 
becomes "unquestionably evident that the continuance of this 
marriage involves positive unfaithfulness to the cause of universal 
loyalty," it must be dissolved, and the definition revised. 

The justice of bringing this process of choosing a cause by 
successive revisions into comparison with the dialectic above 
described lies in the assumption that the finding of a cause is a 
judgment of recognition, and so depends upon some kind of prior - 
possession of the connotation of the cause. 

It must be admitted that Royce does not expressly argue that 
any such prior knowledge is implied in the choosing process. 
Still less does he apply to it the term 'subconscious.' This term 
Royce for the most part avoids. 2 But such seems to me to be 
the implication of his teaching. If I know at all that I exist, it 
must be, according to Royce, as entertaining a distinctive pur- 
pose; and if ever I am able to judge that "This is what I 
seek," the 'what' of my search must already be known to me 

1 The Philosophy of Loyalty, p. 191. 

2 In Outlines of Psychology, the contrast between unanalyzed and analyzed 
mental states covers part of the ground of the contrast between the 'allied' sub- 
consciousness and consciousness (pp. 105-116); and my own belief is that here 
Royce's terminology is less likely to be misleading. 

But in speaking of "that mysterious and personal aspect of conscience upon 
which common sense insists," he says that "Such a loyal choice as I have described 
. . . calls out all of one's personal and more or less unconsciously present instincts, 
interests, affections, one's socially formed habits, and whatever else is woven into 
the unity of each individual self ... it involves all the mystery of finding out 
that some cause awakens us, fascinates us, reverberates through our whole being 
. . . (and thus) involves more than mere conscious choice. It involves that re- 
sponse of our entire nature conscious and unconscious, which makes loyalty so 
precious." Philosophy of Loyalty, pp. iQ4f. 


somewhat as the meaning of justice was known at the outset 
to the Socratic enquirer. 1 

(b) In so far as the will in seeking its cause or causes must choose 
from empirically given materials, Royce's ethics is an ethics 'from 
below. 7 

As a psychological doctrine, Royce accepts the entire depen- 
dence of the will upon previous experience for its contents, quite 
as James stated the case. "We can never consciously and 
directly will any really novel course of action. We can directly 
will an act only when we have before done that act, and have so 
experienced the nature of it." 2 This principle holds good not 
alone for choices of physical alternatives, but for moral choices 
as well: we cannot choose to be self-controlled unless we have 
first experienced what self-control means. It is through imi- 
tation that we first find ourselves taking attitudes which have 
moral value: and having thus become, as it were, involuntarily 
good, we may then deliberately pursue goodness. But the first 
data for all voluntary behavior are furnished by instinctive 
actions. These instincts, as we inherit them, are "planlessly 
numerous" (p. 373); their existence imposes upon us a problem 
of organization. Certainly it is experience which here drives us 
on to morals. 

(c) But neither for Holt nor for Royce can the principle of choice 
or selection be given with the materials for choice as a datum of 
experience. This principle of choice has its psychological expres- 
sion as an ' instinct ' of greater generality. To this extent, ethics 
can be neither 'from below ' nor 'from above,' but from within. 

All evaluations make use of a standard of evaluation; and 
however the things to be chosen or estimated may be found in 
experience, and the standard itself come to consciousness only 
with the material of the problem, it is not the data which have 
furnished the standard. 

Royce follows James in treating the psychology of choice as a 
matter of selective attention, an "attentive furthering of our 
interest in one act or desire as against another." 3 Such pref- 

1 See Philosophy of Loyalty, pp. i69f. Also The World and the Individual, Vol. 
II, pp. 434, 445- 

2 Outlines of Psychology, p. 369. 

* Ibid., p. 369; The World and the Individual, Vol. II, p. 354. 


erential attention, which is will in the stricter sense, may be 
traced to the interaction between momentarily presented in- 
terests (wishes, instinctive-impulses) and a more permanent 
policy, a "system of ruling motives" itself the result of previous 
choosing and integrating. But the problem of accounting for 
the earlier choices which established this system is still to be met. 
If we refer preference to imitation, and say that the desire to 
imitate is itself an instinct, or a complex of instincts, 1 we must 
admit that neither the tendency to imitate, nor the tendency to 
oppose, if such general tendencies exist, prescribe what things are 
chosen for imitation and what for opposition. For psychology 
as well as for metaphysics the will must be identified with a 
persistent principle of preference. And while (as the critics of 
Wundt's theory of apperception have insisted) there is some dif- 
ficulty in reconciling the notion of a conscious function engaged 
in influencing its own states, with the notion of a consciousness 
composed wholly of states, it is possibly this latter notion that 
has made the difficulty. We need only say that the conception 
of an instinct or disposition capable of regulating the action of 
other instincts (as in the disposition to play) will furnish a suf- 
ficient psychological scheme for such a persistent principle. Its 
psychological expression would be that of a most general 'in- 

(d) Royce recognizes the place for such an instinct, and partially 
describes it. 

In considering the will as a source of originality Royce de- 
scribes an instinct of highly general character, which partly 
fulfils the conditions for choice above described. 2 The special 
problem being to account for "the apparently spontaneous 
variations of our habits which appear in the course of life and 
which cannot be altogether explained as due to external stimu- 
lations," they are referred to a restlessness, which is quantitative 
and to some degree characteristic of species, and which is "some- 
thing very much more general in its character than is any one of 
the specific instincts upon which our particular habits are formed" 

1 Outlines of Psychology, p. 276. 
* Ibid., Ch. xiii. 


(p. 318). This restlessness is something other than the rehearsal 
of an inherited repertoire of responses, such as Thorndike has 
appealed to. It is "the power of the organism to persist in 
seeking for new adjustments whether the environment at first 
suggests them or not, to persist in struggling toward its wholly 
unknown goal, whether there is any apparent opportunity for 
reaching such a goal or not." This restlessness may reach the 
intensity of an independent passion, as in the absorption of play 
or of invention ; it is at the basis of all our current selective at- 
tention, so far as its quantity of persistence is concerned (p. 328). 
And as for its organic basis, it "depends upon vital activities 
which are as elemental as the ' tropisms ' of the organisms upon 
which Loeb experimented" (p. 327; see also the preface). It 
may be called simply a "general instinct to persist in trying." 

We can hardly agree in classing with the tropisms of Loeb a 
tendency or set of tendencies so non-specific in direction that 
their goal can be called 'wholly unknown,' save indeed for the 
fact that it is something novel, i. e., something not identical with 
what is already familiar. Such an impulse (a negative iso-trop- 
ism?) would be open to the criticism of McDougall upon the pos- 
sibility of an organic basis for curiosity. 1 But apart from this, 
the 'instinct to persist in trying' cannot be identical with the 
principle of selection which we seek, because of this same absence 
of content or direction. It would appear, of itself, to imply a 
still deeper and positive 'tropism'; for unless we are ready to 
say that the restlessness in question is purely a distaste of the 
old because it is old, or purely a love of action for the sake of 
being in action, it would be naturally explained as a case of the 
'negative after-image' above described, a recognition thatthe self 

1 " This instinct is excited not by any simple sense-impressions, nor yet by any 
specific complex of sense-impressions; for there is no one class of objects to which 
it is especially directed or in the presence of which it is invariably displayed. . . . 
In short, the condition of excitement of the impulse of curiosity seems to be in 
all cases the presence of a strange or unfamiliar element in whatever is partly 
familiar, whether the object be one of sense-perception (as exclusively in the 
animals and very young children), or one contemplated in thought only. In either 
case the element of strangeness ... is something which exists only for the 
organism, . . . and is, in fact, the meaning of the object for the organism in so 
far as curiosity is awakened." (William McDougall. Body and Mind, pp. 2661.) 


as a whole is not satisfied in any of its present objects, because the 
self already knows 'subconsciously' what it wants. 

(e) Further suggestions for its description are found in the work 
of Jung and of Putnam. The concept of a "necessary wish or 
desire" defined. 

Whatever may be needed to complete the psychological concept 
of a selective principle, it is an important step in advance to 
have recognized, as Royce has done, the existence of such a thing 
as a general instinct, and to have proposed for it an elemental 
organic basis. What is required is a native tendency which is 
determined, not by the specific disposition of this or that nervous 
path, but by the form of metabolism of the nervous processes 
everywhere. It would be such a tendency that we could say, 
"To be alive is to wish thus and thus." Such a desire could be 
regarded as a necessary desire. 

I have already mentioned that in the school of Freud, and 
especially in the work of C. G. Jung, there has been a tendency 
to recognize genetic relations among instincts, and finally to set 
up the hypothesis of an Ur-instinct from which all others are 
derived by differentiation. This is a result of the simple consider- 
ation that 'sublimation' implies a constant which undergoes 
transformation; and how far back one pursues the constant 
depends on how far one recognizes the scope of sublimation. For 
Freud the notion of 'libido' represents the constant of a group of 
allotropic sex-tendencies and their sublimations. For Jung, 
' libido ' loses its sexual character altogether and becomes as nearly 
as possible craving in general. ' ' From the descriptive standpoint, 
psychoanalysis accepts the multiplicity of instincts. From the 
genetic standpoint it is otherwise. It regards the multiplicity 
of instincts as issuing out of relative unity, the primitive libido. 
It recognizes that definite quantities of the primitive libido are 
split off, associated with the recently created functions, and 
finally merged with them." 1 Jung himself draws the parallel 
between the introduction of this generalized concept of ' libido ' 
and R. Mayer's introduction into dynamics of the modern concept 
of energy. "We term libido that energy which manifests itself 

1 Theory of Psychoanalysis, p. 42. 


by vital processes, which is subjectively perceived as aspiration, 
longing and striving. We see in the diversity of natural phe- 
nomena the desire, the Ubido, in the most diverse applications and 
forms. . . . Claparede in a conversation once remarked that we 
could as well use the term 'interest.'" 

Dr. James J. Putnam, who has been alert from the first to the 
philosophical aspect of Freud's psychology, and has repeatedly 
called the attention of his colleagues to their importance, has 
especially noted (in his Presidential Address before the American 
Psychopathological Association, May, 1913) the wider affiliations 
of the concept as used by Jung: 

"Let its name be altered, and its functions but slightly more 
expanded, and we have Bergson's poussSe vitale, the understudy 
of 'self-activity.'" 1 

If the genetic surmises of Jung are substantiated, 2 we shall 
have made progress toward recognizing the empirical basis for a 
'soul,' not alone in the sense of a result of integrative processes, 
but as a prior condition of such processes. It would remain, 
Jung thinks, as purely an hypothetical entity as physical energy. 
"I maintain that the conception of libido with which we are 
working is not only not concrete or known, but is an unknown x, 
a conceptual image, a token, and no more real than the energy 
in the conceptual world of the physicist." 3 Yet he declares 
also that 'in nature' the artificial distinction between hunger 
and the sex impulse does not exist; that here we find only a con- 
tinuous 'instinct of life,' a will to live, which so far coincides 
with the Will of Schopenhauer. It would be difficult to reconcile 
these two contrasting views of the original impulse, were it not 
apparent that the entities with which psychology deals are 
' found in nature ' in two quite different ways, (a) as the mate- 
rials of experience and (b) as the accompanying (and, if you 
like, subconscious) conditions of the movement of experience, 
especially for its selective character. The most general instinct, 
under whatever name, is found in nature, but in the second way; 

1 The Journal of Abnormal Psychology, August-Sept., 1913, p. 12. 
8 They might profitably be compared with those of G. H. Schneider. 
* Op. tit., p. 40. 


hence it is certainly not known as a physical object may be 
known. But it is not merely an hypothesis. 

(/) The resulting view of ethics attaches some meaning to the 
concept of an ethics 'from above.' 

If we are right in concluding that on psychological grounds as 
well as on metaphysical grounds there is a continuity and identity 
in that life-policy which we call the will, soul, or self, the law of 
our life must be defined in terms of those objects or causes which 
this unitary wish can recognize as its own. What we have to 
seek in this world as moral agents is not primarily the satisfaction 
of a differentiating bundle of wishes: it is the satisfaction of 
the Wish. 

Loyalty to the object which the Wish at any time can recognize 
as its own must determine the destiny of all minor wishes ; though 
every such minor wish, other things equal, will be interpreted as a 
specific application of the original Wish. This will be its 'mean- 
ing' ; and the ethics of particular instincts will be summarized in 
the principle, use them for what they mean. 

When the Wish has embodied itself in a cause, however, there 
is a note of ruthlessness in its attitude to the outstanding wishes, 
which Royce has signalized in the word loyalty. It may not be 
amiss to point out the cognate note in a thinker of very different 
mould, who has likewise recognized a most general instinct, 
giving it the not wholly false name of the will to power. Geist, 
said Nietzsche, ist das Leben, das selber in's Leben schneidet. 

But Nietzsche's conception of the wish, as a subjective urge 
for the unloading of energy, lacks just that element of permanent 
attachment to an external meaning which is insisted upon by 
both writers whom we have been comparing. And if, as Royce 
maintains, that external meaning is from the first the divine being, 
whether or not we consciously so define it, our rule of life becomes 
also, to this extent, an 'ethics from above.' 

William Ernest Hocking. 

Harvard University.